The Bangladesh Factory Safety Agreements: An Overview
In the aftermath of the Rana Plaza tragedy in 2013, Bangladesh`s garment industry faced significant pressure to improve workplace safety standards. This led to the creation of two factory safety agreements: the Accord on Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh and the Alliance for Bangladesh Worker Safety.
The Accord, signed by over 200 international apparel brands and retailers, was created in May 2013 and aimed at ensuring a safe working environment in Bangladeshi garment factories. The agreement required signatories to conduct safety inspections, provide financial support for remediation, and hold factories accountable for compliance with safety standards.
The Alliance, created in July 2013, was a group of North American retailers and brands that included Walmart, Gap, and Target. It had similar goals to the Accord, but had a different structure and approach. The Alliance set up its own independent inspection program and established a worker hotline for reporting safety concerns.
These agreements were both set to expire in May 2018, but have since been extended. The Accord has been extended indefinitely, while the Alliance was rebranded as the Accord`s Transition Accord and also extended.
Since the agreements have been in place, there have been significant improvements in the safety of the Bangladesh garment industry. According to the Accord`s latest annual report, 86% of safety hazards identified in the factories it monitors have been remediated. The Alliance`s final report stated that all of its factories had made the necessary safety improvements to ensure compliance by the end of 2018.
Despite these improvements, challenges remain. Some factories continue to resist safety improvements, and workers still face harassment for reporting safety concerns. Additionally, labor advocates have criticized the agreements for not doing enough to support workers` rights, including the right to form unions.
Overall, the Bangladesh Factory Safety Agreements represent an important step in improving safety and working conditions in Bangladesh`s garment industry. While more work needs to be done, the progress made so far is significant and should be celebrated. By continuing to prioritize safety and workers` rights, the industry can become a model for ethical and sustainable production around the world.